Everyone encounters stress on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, this stress generates by something psychological, such as losing employment, while at other times, the cause of these anxious feelings is environmental, such as a major deadline approaching fast. Regardless of where the stress originates from, having it persistently at very high levels forces the human body to react by releasing certain hormones that speed up the breathing process, increase the heart rate, and tense the muscles. All these reactions are collaboratively known as the fight or flight response, a built-in phenomenon that is a major reason for many mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Behind the activation and de-activation of this fight or flight response are two major systems of the body, called the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These systems play their fair share in regulating stress response and contributing to developing mental health disorders. Knowing what these systems are and the difference between the sympathetic vs parasympathetic nervous systems is crucial to understand how they affect mental health and how to manage them for general well-being.
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